Thursday, July 30, 2009

Montly Student Loan Debt Roundup

I just started this feature at the beginning of the month and I'm anxious to post a second month to see if there's any progress on my student loan debt. And since the first of August is a Saturday I'm putting it up two days early.

Subsidized Stafford*
Start 07/09 Last Month This Month Difference
$41,454.63 $41,454.63 $41,390.05 -$64.58

Unsubsidized Stafford*
Start 07/09 Last Month This Month Difference
$34,376.12 $34,376.12 $34,322.56 -$53.56

Private Undergrad Loan**
Start 07/09 Last Month This Month Difference
$26,393.79 $26,393.79 $26,177.70 -$216.09

Defaulted Private Loan***
Start 07/09 Last Month This Month Difference
$25,190.84 $25,190.84 $24,670.84 -$520

Perkins Loan****
Start 07/09 Last Month This Month Difference
$8,665.23 $8,665.23 $8,514.27 -$150.96

Law School Loan*****
Start 07/09 Last Month This Month Difference
$1,710.70 $1,710.70 $1,625.31 -$85.39

Grand Total
Start 07/09 Last Month This Month Difference
$137,779.31 $137,779.31 $136,700.73 -$1,078.58

*Note, the interest rate for these loan has been decreased from 4.875% to 4.625% by signing up for direct pay!

**My parents pay this loan. The interest rate is 4.13%.

***My previous calculation was a little off. There is no interest on this loan since it's technically not a loan anymore, just a payment agreement.

**** @5%

***** This is the smallest but most annoying loan at 8% interest. I am currently paying double the minimum payment each month and hope to knock it out completely in this calendar year, pleasing both Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman fans.

I am pleased to say that my student loan debt has decreased over $1000 this month. Sure...that includes $260 in financial error on my part but the good news is it can only go down from here! I feel like my Stafford Loans aren't going down as much as they should but it's probably chalked up to the problem I noted before about paying on different days on the month screwing up how much of your payment goes towards the principal. Now that I'm direct pay I'll be checking to see if more progress will be made.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Got My Security Deposit Back!

I can safely say I never thought this day would come. My landlord was great when it came to fixing stuff, getting the sidewalk shoveled, etc. but that's not to say we didn't have our issues during my five year tenure in the building. And from what I heard from former neighbors he was notorious in denying former tenants their security deposits. I had pretty much written off the deposit as I paid it so long ago and figured he was going to find a way to keep most/all of my money.

Well color me surprised when I opened up the mailbox today and found a letter from my former landlord with a check for $492!! It's not the full amount I paid 5 years ago...he also included an itemized bill....but hey it's $492 I definitely was not expecting to get this week.

To the Wedding Savings it goes!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Budget 7/22 - 8/04

Ok here's my budget for the next two weeks. No room for screwing around. Must beef up the wedding fund A.S.A.P. and finally realize the savings I have from finally moving out of my apartment. What's better is that we finally have a stretch of time where we don't have any pricey plans.

So here's where my money will be going:

Starting Balance = $1246

Wedding - 400
Aunt Sallie Mae - 407
Perkins Loan - 93
School Loan - 54
Sprint - 79
Laptop - 75
Groceries - 75
Misc. - 63

It's going to be tight. I already spent $20 today on a cute necklace and earring set that I saw. I don't have much casual jewelery and I've been meaning to jazz up my boring lawyer wardobe especially now that business casual summer is in effect. But I'm gonna make it work because I need to stay on task for saving for the wedding!

Also in money news I decided to finally automate my Sallie Mae student loans because there's a marginal decrease in interest and so said interest is always computed on the same day (in layman's terms your payment goes the farthest). But she wants me to pay on the 17th of the month which is around when I have been paying but I want to fix it so that payment stays on the second paycheck of the month...since the first paycheck of the month I am paying $385 to collection agencies. It seems, however, the only way to do that is to make an extra payment one month.'s going to take me a while to figure out how to swing that one. Sigh.

Where it Went 7/08 - 7/21

So I pretty much screwed up the past two weeks, not watching my money as carefully as I should have been. I wanted to treat my fiance to a date weekend because he's been gone away on business so much. That would have been all well and fine if I had cut back on other expenses...but I didn't. I also treated a broke friend to Harry Potter and expensive craft beers....well he's supposed to be paying me back today but I'm not holding my breath. I got some take out food because I was too tired to cook for myself. Oh well, what's done is done.

The good news is I got an unexpected $50 check in the mail!

The sort of annoying news is that the bank in which we created the Wedding Fund has still not managed to sort out a bank to bank transfer so I watched money that was supposed to be reserved for the wedding slip out of my account. Hopefully the issue will resolve itself soon as I have learned the hard way that the only way to prevent me from spending money is to take it out of my account!

And now, the numbers. Here's where my money went as compared to the budget I established two weeks ago:


Wedding - 500/295
Defaulted Student Loan - 260/260
Nice Collection Agency - 125/125
Laptop - 75/75
Groceries - 100/96
Camping - 50/20
Misc./Dry Cleaning - 86/424

Yeah I know, it's pretty bad. I really need to reign it in and transfer all of the wedding money to the wedding account ASAP! Otherwise there may just not be a wedding! Well, okay there will still be a wedding...but with some pissed off vendors!

The good news is I just realized I only have 5 more months of payments to Nice Collection Agency and I'm done paying that old card off forever!

Stay tuned for my next budget coming right up!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting in Shape

Forgive me for my lack of posts lately. Been unmotivated when it comes to finances and that's definitely not a good thing. But I'll try to get back in the swing of things in the next few days. And that's not the only area of my life that needs some motivation....

Fiance and I joined the gym. After quitting nearly a year ago due to my failure to find time/energy to go work out and getting hit with a monthly membership (and sometimes an accompanying bank overdraft fee) I upped and quit the gym. In the months that followed and not entirely related to quitting the gym, I have packed on some pounds and so has my fiance. I've mentioned this before in my mea culpa to new clothes expenses but I'm going to rant about it again.

Gaining weight sucks. Having to buy new clothes isn't fun if you're only buying them because you don't fit into your current wardrobe. And there just doesn't seem to be anything I can pinpoint that I'm doing wrong...yet I have to deal with the judgment and criticisms of my family and sometimes even my friends about my changing appearance. I don't eat junk food. I'm not a lazy bum. I walk everywhere. I do not overindulge. But for whatever reason I am not as thin as I want to be or as I have been in the past. Blame age. Blame beer. I'm fed up with it.

So I've been going to the gym. It takes some getting used to. After not working out for a while the physical pain I endured after the first session was pretty bad. Also I absolutely hate cario exercises. It's just so boring. I've tried swimming. I've tried classes. I've bought video games and workout DVDs. I'll find the thing that works best for me soon. In the meantime I'm just venting. As a bride-to-be I ideally would like to be in great shape and that's just not as easy as it sounds. I work all day long and then I'm just friggen tired and want to get home to my cat and my leisure time. Also I've started a diet that leaves me hungry and drained of all energy I would need to exert on the treadmill. Like I said, I'm working on it.

The relatively good news is that we managed to save a little green on the membership. Since I was rejoining the same gym I belonged to for several years I asked them to waive the membership initiation fee of $100 and they agreed. Also my fiance ended his gym membership at a pricier place so our couplles membership of $65/month is actually slightly cheaper than what he was paying for his single membership.

I'll keep you updated on the progress. In the meantime I would love some getting in shape advice or encouragement!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Budget 7/08 - 7/21

First, the bad news. Remember how I was so excited about my retroactive COLA? This wasn't just based on office rumor or speculation. My boss came by my cube (only the second time he has ever stopped by) and told me the details himself. Come this morning I log into my bank account and while I was glad to see my paycheck had been deposited (don't get me wrong) I didn't get one red cent extra. I mentioned this news to my receptionist and she said she wasn't sure what happened. An hour later I heard it through the grapevine (the grapevine!! Unlike my coworker who was told personally when my boss called her into his office. Why didn't he call me in? Huh?) that the COLA is not in effect until you have been in your job six months!!! And...the lump retroactive sum I was promised...totally approximately $210? I'm not going to get it.

I'm pissed. Pissed I'm not getting the money I was promised YESTERDAY and pissed that I have received no official notice of this fact. $210 would go a long way right now. Not to mention I have another three months of waiting for the COLA to kick in....losing out on about $180.

And okay, I know that this rule was not created by my office and the information I got yesterday was no one's fault here, I still reserve the right to be pissed. I need to make up the difference in my wedding budget and that money was going to put me over the edge. Now I'm just going to have to find another way.

Rant over. Here's my budget for the next two weeks, throwing a little extra at the wedding account to make up for the last pay period.

Starting Balance = 1246

Wedding - 500
Defaulted Student Loan - 260
Nice Collection Agency - 125
Laptop - 75
Groceries - 100
Camping - 50
Misc./Dry Cleaning - 86

And that's how the cookie crumbles. We're going camping with some friends next weekend and I'm very excited for a little get away that doesn't involve seeing either set of our parents. I'm still down about $200 in the wedding budget so I'm going to have to figure out a way to make it up next month. Stay tuned!

Where it Went 6/24 - 7/7

So I am finally free of my apartment and paying rent, yay! Moving meant scrambling around like a maniac for a week and a half and spending some cash, but it's finally over and I can start seeing some savings.

I had to buy a new dress for a wedding we attended and despite my efforts at finding one on sale (believe me I tried) I ended up spending $100. Granted it's a very nice dress and I'm sure I'll be wearing it again but...ouch.

I also bought a weight loss video game to the tune of $43, but $10 of that money was technically spent on "donating" my old computer monitor to Best Buy. I'm trying to think of ways to make working out fun. It stinks. Hopefully I'll start to see some results in that area of my life soon as well.

Without further ado, here's how my budget stacked up over the past two weeks compared to my earlier projections:

Aunt Sallie Mae - 406/408
Perkins Loan - 93/93
School Loan - 54/54
Utilities - 45/47
Sprint - 100/97
Laptop - 70/0
Groceries - 100/0
Misc. - 128/280
Clothes - 0/100
Video Game - 0/43
Wedding - 400/90

My first pay period of saving money for the wedding and I totally blew it. I have to start transferring the money to the wedding account at the beginning of the pay period to prevent this problem from reoccurring. Must remember to get some deposit slips from the fiance. Will need to adjust accordingly in today's budget as this wedding isn't going to pay for itself.

I didn't end up sending in the lap top payment yet but don't worry folks (and fiance) it's not due until the 13th and I will pay it today!!

Stay tuned for the next budget and some bad news. :-(

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I got a cost of living pay raise!

Happy news to really make me appreciate my newish job: we are all getting a cost of living adjustment of 3%! That's right, just as my own cost of living has decreased, I'm going to have a bigger paycheck. According to my calculations on my go-to paycheck calculator site, paycheck city, my new paycheck will be about $30 bigger after taxes and retirement contributions.

Incidents like this at work illustrate the difference between the public and private sectors. According to my research, the inflation rate has actually decreased since last year. Yet due to an agreement tying my pay to the pay negotiations by the public employee's union, we get a raise. Oh Happy Collective Bargaining!

And the best part, the raise is retroactive...meaning I will get a lump sum in tomorrow's paycheck of 3% of my pay for the past few months since I started the new job.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Too Much Student Debt = No Law License?

This article from the New York Times is really alarming. New York judges have denied one man's admission to practice law in New York State because of his outstanding student loan debt. From the article:

All his life, Robert Bowman wanted to be a lawyer. He overcame a troubled
childhood, a tragic accident that nearly cost him a leg and a debilitating Jet
Ski collision.

He put himself through community college, worked and borrowed heavily to
help pay for college, graduate school and even law school. He took the New York
bar examination not once, not twice, not three times, but four, passing it last
year. Finally, he seemed to be on his way.

In January, the committee of New York lawyers that reviews applications for
admission to the bar interviewed Mr. Bowman, studied his history and the debt he
had amassed, and called his persistence remarkable. It recommended his

But a group of five state appellate judges decided this spring that his student loans were too big and his efforts to repay them
too meager for him to be a lawyer.

During Mr. Bowman's pusuit of higher education and struggles to pass the bar exam he unfortunately ignored his student loan obligations. Over the course of four years his outstanding debt went from a high (but not unheard of) $270,000 to $435,000 due to charges and fees from various collection agencies.

While I can see the argument that this man seemingly kept getting degree after degree without thinking of the consequences his mounting debt would have (he admits he has never made a single student loan payment) and then went four years without getting in touch with his lenders, I think the punishment of denying him admission to the bar is outrageous. How is he ever supposed to pay back his loans now if he can't even make a living?

I learned the hard way what happens to you if you try to run away from your student loan debt and wind up in default (granted for 1/20th of the amount that Mr. Bowman did) so I can definitely sympathize for what he must be going through. But to work so hard pulling himself out of homelessness and two life-threatening accidents to finally passing the bar exam just to be denied a chance at his dream of becoming a lawyer just doesn't seem fair to me at all.

Mr. Bowman is appealing his decision and I really hope things turn around for him.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Halfway Through 2009

I can't believe it's already July, meaning six months since I posted my Financial Resolutions for 2009 (and one year until our wedding!). Now is a good time to review my resolutions and see if I'm on track. In January, I resolved to:

1. Save up a $2000 Emergency Fund
Not on track. I got a little caught up in the emergency of losing my job but now that I have a better job and no rent to pay this shall be an attainable goal. To do this in six months, however, I would need to start saving $333 a month. I gotta think on this for a while as I'm not sure how that would impact the wedding savings and whether I should take into account my fiance's emergency fund when contemplating our emergency savings. I'll get back to you.

2. Eliminate Law School Loan (Current Balance = $1932)
By paying $14 extra each month I am still on track to eliminate this loan in less than three years. Listing all my student loan debt today was a little sobering, however, so I have decided to try to knock out this entire loan in 2009. According to a a debt payoff calculator in order to do this I have to start paying $289.87 this month to reach this goal.

3. Save up a Christmas Fund of $300
Failure but then again no one really expects a couple trying to save for a wedding to go huge at Christmas. Maybe now that I (and I can't say this enough today) not paying rent I will devote more attention to gift savings.

4. Save $1000 for Special Event in 2010
Yeah I was thinking about saving for the wedding several weeks before we were even officially engaged. Don't shoot me. Six months later I look upon that quaint little $1000 figure and laugh my head off. Make that $10,000 is the amount I need to save in the next year. Not including what we already have paid out and what my fiance has contributed to the Wedding Fund already I need to start chipping in a whopping $833 a month.

5. Continue to save 10% of my salary for retirement.
On track!!

6. Pay off all short term debt - don't acquire new debt.
Woohoo, it felt so good to get rid of my overdue utility debt, my Capital One balance and of course my Boyfriend Debt.

So that's where I stand right now. I'm very excited for the next six months of this year to start seeing some progress. In the past year (yes it's been over a year since my first post) I've gotten pretty good at actually paying my bills (a skill that had eluded me in 10 years of adult life) but now the next year is going to be devoted to actually planning and saving for the future.

Look out for my new budget to be posted next week as I attempt to incorporate these revisited goals.

New Feature: Monthly Student Loan Debt Roundup!

Yee Haw!

I've been meaning to do introduce this feature for a while: posting the exact figures of each one of my student loans so that (eventually) I can witness the principals get smaller and my hard work paying off.

Until very recently (when I had a blog design issue) I was keeping track of these numbers in a shared Google document that I'm sure no one noticed since it required clicking through your blog reader and finding the appropriate link on my blog. I still use this document to keep myself on track but it doesn't really show me any progress since I just delete the old numbers and put in the new every month. Therefore I want to start out each month with a handy little chart like this one:

Subsidized Stafford (Undergrad and Law combined) = $41,454.63 @ 4.875%
Unsubsidized Stafford (Undergrad and Law combined) = $34,376.12 @ 4.875%
[Private Loan (Undergrad) = $26,393.79 @ 4.13%]*
Defaulted Private Loan (Law) = $25,190.84 @ 0%
Perkins Loan (Law) = $8.665.23 @ 5%
School Loan (Law) = $1,710.70 @ 8%!!!
Grand Total = $137,779.31

*This loan is in my name but I am not currently making the monthly payments on it, my parents are. This may or may not change in the future.

Behold, my student loan debt as of July 1, 2009. Watch it go down here once a month. At this rate I'll be blogging for a LONG time.

Guess what I didn't do today?

Pay Rent!!!!

I am landlord free!

Finally out of my apartment and can devote money towards Wedding Savings!

I may even be getting some of my security deposit back! More on this as it develops.